Stennis Space Center

Stennis Space Center’s first Director Jerry Hlass knew he and his fellow workers were up for a challenge.
" There were very hectic days, when I was in Washington, I would come every week because the upper echelon of NASA, the associate administrator of space flight said "we’ll give you all the money you want, we’ll do whatever you need, but if you can’t make it, don’t bother coming back,” said Hlass.
The decision to build in South Mississippi was an easy one for NASA, with the Pear River allowing barge access for transporting the massive sections of the Saturn Five Rocket sections far too big for land transport.
Another determining factor was the 125,000 acre acoustical buffer zone necessary for rocket tests.
“It was important. It was so important that it was one of the first decisions the program made was to establish a place like this in south Mississippi,” said Randy Galloway.
By 1965, the new test platforms were being put to use, firing the powerful engines that would soon send Apollo astronauts into space.
"The Apollo program was really the program of the 20th century if you consider engineering and exploration,” said Fred Haise.
While the technology used back then seems primitive by today’s standards, America was ready to safely send mankind further than it had ever gone before.
There was talk of closing Stennis at the conclusion of the Apollo Program in 1972, but NASA found a new mission for the space center, testing rockets for the Space Shuttle.
“As long as NASA is in the business of space, we need to develop rockets to fly, and this is the best place in the world to test them."

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